It has been a long five years since the Springboks and Ireland have come face to face, with the two set to battle it out in the Boks first European end-of-year-tour clash at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday evening.
The last time the two sides met was at the same stadium towards the end of coach Allister Coetzee’s ill-fated reign in 2017, and ended with Ireland claiming their biggest ever win over the Boks, a 38-3 thrashing.
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However, both sides have changed drastically since then, according to SA Rugby Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus, and a completely different game should be on show this weekend.
“We got a proper hiding 38-3. But (over) the next two years things got better and we managed to win the World Cup,” said Erasmus.
“So five years since then both teams have changed dramatically in how they do things and how they play. The way Ireland has played and the teams they have beaten to be where they are currently, they are doing a lot of things right on and off the field.
“But we are looking forward to the game. We know we are in for some stiff competition, especially in front of their (home) crowd. So I think it’s going to be a good one to watch.”
Top ranked side
Despite Ireland, currently the top ranked side in World Rugby, being slight favourites, Erasmus believes that the Boks have the power to beat them, but admits that they are not a team that can be overrun.
“We’ve got certain strengths that we think will be good for this game, but they’re not a team that you can just run over,” explained Erasmus.
“We have to have special plans to outsmart them because their coach Andy Farrell is a very good coach and one of the toughest rugby league guys.
“We have to bring some technical smarts into the game. I can’t say where we need to be smart, but we need to be smart.”
With the Boks taking on Six Nations champs France in their next game, it will be important for them to try and build some momentum against Ireland, so they will be aiming to put in a big performance on Saturday.